Oprah Winfrey is spending a lot of her farewell season highlighting changes in all areas of culture during her 25 years on the air and Tuesday’s show brought us a “Saturday Night Live Class Reunion” with Tina Fey, Tracy Morgan, Dana Carvey, Jane Curtin and Chevy Chase.
Shows like that are always fun — comedians being funny and reminiscing about many things that we actually remember. But when the subject turned to how women were regarded in the early years of the show, things took a bit of a serious turn — which tends to happen when the subject is misogyny.
Curtin, whose incredible comic timing and deadpan delivery made her the perfect foil for physical comedians like Chase and Gilda Radner, said that SNL was a harsh environment for women in the show’s early days. John Belushi, for one, thought that women weren’t funny — and he went out of his way to sabotage pieces by women writers.
I love Jane’s face when Chevy started to talk about “women’s issues.” If you’ve read much about the history of SNL, you know that Chase was pretty much universally loathed — especially by the female writers that he sexually harassed.
While stories of the SNL “boys club” are not new, hearing Curtin talk about the sexism reminds us of just how talented she and her colleagues Gilda Radner and Lorraine Newman were. Despite what was going on behind the scenes, we remember these women as some of the funniest SNL cast members ever.
This clip from the early days is one of my favorite Radner bits. I hope she’s performing in the afterlife while Belushi has to sit in the corner and watch.
To see more clips from Oprah’s SNL reunion, visit the show’s site. Did you see the show? What did you think of the discussion?